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The beautiful beaches, waterways and islands that surround Florida on three sides tie the state together. As do the palm trees, the greenery and the sunshine. But beyond that, there are entirely different worlds to discover within the Sunshine State, with amazing differences in time, tone, culture and landscape.

North Florida was already settled and shaping events for the state and the country, hundreds of years before South Florida even became accessible to anyone but the Native Americans who could navigate its forbidding terrain.

That’s why North Florida feels so much like the South, with its graceful antebellum mansions, Civil War monuments and counties with names like Jefferson, Jackson and Taylor. Yet North Florida’s historical footprint goes much deeper, spanning the centuries from the first native inhabitants to the colonial era, when the Spanish, French and British struggled for dominance.

Away from the beaches, North Florida expands into a world of deep forests, hidden streams and crystal-clear freshwater springs whose ultimate depths can only be guessed at.

Central Florida holds its own in terms of natural and cultural wonders, from venues showcasing legends of the art world—including Salvador Dali and Dale Chihuly—to vast wilderness areas whose natural rhythms haven’t been disturbed in millennia. But practice your twang because this is cowboy country, and when they’re not managing Central Florida’s thriving cattle industry and famed thoroughbred horse farms, you’ll find the locals showing off their skills in thrilling rodeos and horse shows.

Meanwhile, South Florida has another tale to tell—one of environmental wonders and multicultural variety, of a creative energy that has vaulted the region onto the world stages of art, theater and music, and of a string of islands that feel like the Caribbean but are uniquely Floridian in their laid-back approach to life. Look deeper, though, and you’ll discover thriving native cultures—Seminole and Miccosukee—who welcome visitors to the Florida they preserve in long-standing traditions, cuisine and kinship with nature.

The many facets of Florida are waiting. Put yourself in a state of wonder by clicking here.

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